At least two Cabinet ministers will withdraw their backing of Boris Johnson if he is handed a fixed penalty notice for breaching his own Covid rules, it has emerged.
Appearing on the BBC on Sunday, the prime minister refused to say whether he would quit if fined by the police, dodging 17 questions in a ten-minute interview and saying there was “literally not a bean I can tell you”.
Johnson’s allies have insisted he will not resign, even if fined by police for attending alleged Downing Street parties.
James Cleverly, the Europe minister, told Times Radio on Sunday that Johnson should not be made to step down even if handed a fixed penalty notice.
But two members of Johnson’s top ministerial team have told The Times that the prime minister’s position would become untenable if he were found to have broken the law.
One source said: “If he gets an FPN he’ll have to go. How can you have a prime minister who has been found guilty of breaking the law?”
A minister and close ally of a second Cabinet minister added: “If the Met’s conclusion is effectively that he broke the regulations then it makes his position extremely difficult. It’s going to be very difficult for him to stay, especially if it’s for a party in the No 10 flat.”
Facing more than ten minutes of questioning on the topic of Partygate yesterday, the prime minister told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme repeatedly there was “nothing” he could say on the matter until the police inquiry was completed.
However, Johnson said he hoped the public “won’t have long” to wait for the investigations to complete, adding: “I will be saying a lot more about it in due course.”
‘Not a bean’
He handed a legal questionnaire to police on Friday regarding claims that lockdown-busting parties were held in Downing Street. The content of his questionnaire response has not been made public.
“Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to give you full and detailed answers on all this stuff. I genuinely can’t because we’ve got a process under way – there is not a jot I can say until it is done” Johnson told the BBC.
When told the public found some of his excuses for attending Downing Street gatherings “implausible”, particularly the “bring your own booze” event in May 2020, Johnson replied: “You’re just going to have to wait until the process is complete – there is literally not a bean I can tell you about that, as much as I would like to.”
Pressed further, he added: “I understand your curiosity, I totally accept it, but you’re just going to have to accept for the time being – and you won’t have long, I hope – but for the time being you’re going to have to contain your interest. I will be saying a lot more about it in due course.”